03 Jan The Jewish Agency, Jewish Federations Raise $3 Million for Masa in 24 Hours
The Jewish Agency for Israel and Jewish Federations of North America Raise $3 Million for Masa in 24 Hours
The funds will be allocated for hundreds of Masa applicants who were on a waiting list and whose acceptance hinged upon budgetary approval
Jerusalem, January 3, 2023 — The Jewish Agency for Israel and the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) recently raised $3 million in 24 hours in order to accept hundreds of Masa Israel Journey applicants, many from Russia and the former Soviet Union (FSU), who were placed on a waiting list pending budgetary approval.
Upon hearing of the waiting list, The Jewish Agency turned to the Mandel Foundation and to the Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund of the Jewish Federations who immediately and generously committed $3 million, which is currently in the approval process to be matched by the Government of Israel for a total of $6 million. The accelerated fundraising push at the end of the year is due to these unexpected applications which were not taken into consideration in the initial 2022/23 year budget.
The generous donation comes at a turbulent time for the region, resulting in many young Jews looking to spend time in Israel. Masa’s pre-Aliyah (immigration to Israel) programs provide an immediate response for thousands of young people from the FSU looking to build new lives and integrate in Israel.
As The Jewish Agency saw the number of olim (immigrants) from the FSU rise, the organization worked with Masa to increase the number of program scholarships available to participants from the region. When the Masa budget was finalized, the number of scholarships budgeted was 1,550 participants from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.
However, now that the year has begun, Masa has received hundreds of additional applications for these pre-Aliyah/employment training courses that exceed the budgeted 1,550 participant slots. The total financial need for these unbudgeted participants totaled $6 million.
While approaching the Mandel Foundation and the Jewish Federations to raise the necessary $3 million, The Jewish Agency stressed that Masa programs are a ticket to full integration, language and job market success in Israel.
“When we learned of the additional young Jews from Russia and the FSU who wanted to join Masa, there was no question we had to do everything to make it happen. I am tremendously moved by the immediate response of our partners at Jewish Federations and the Mandel Foundation,” said Jewish Agency Chairman of the Board Mark Wilf. “Masa is the flagship program for young Jews to connect with Israel and I am grateful we are able to offer them this wonderful opportunity.”
“Fostering Jewish leadership is a core mission of the Mandel Foundation and I’m delighted that, together with the Jewish Federations of North America, we are able to help additional young Russian and FSU Jews participate on the meaningful Masa Israel Journey program which will undoubtedly enrich both their futures and that of the State of Israel,” said Steve Hoffman of the Mandel Foundation.
“The opportunity to bring these young people to Israel from Russia, Ukraine and Moldova goes directly to the heart of who we are as a Jewish people. Our Jewish Federations did not hesitate, immediately raising the necessary emergency funds for Masa to expand its capacity during this difficult period,” said Julie Platt, Chair of the Jewish Federations of North America. “Moments such as these make me truly proud of the global support network that Jewish Federations have built to respond to the needs of Jewish communities, not just in North America, but in Israel and across the globe.”
Masa Israel Journey, The Jewish Agency and the Government of Israel’s long-term Israel experience program, was created 19 years ago in order to increase the number of young Jews who had a meaningful experience in Israel. To that end, Masa has encouraged the development and creation of 200+ programs that can attract young people to Israel. These programs are varied and can be highly specific to areas of interest, academic studies and employment opportunities. For those young people who see Israel as their future home, Masa offers programs that focus exclusively on Aliyah preparatory assistance, including language, professional development and other skills that would allow for an easy and successful integration into Israeli society.
James Fattal, J Cubed Communications